New day in Vegas with Golden Knights

New day in Vegas with Golden Knights

November 29, 2016 3:01 AM
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They came wearing jerseys of other teams from around the National Hockey League – a Drew Doughty Los Angeles Kings’ jersey, a Steve Yzerman Detroit Red Wings’ jersey, even a vintage Bobby Orr Boston Bruins’ jersey, and many others.

They wore caps with other NHL team logos such as the Washington Capitals, San Jose Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins. Presumably, some of those jerseys and caps soon will be replaced.

The locals will have their own team to root for – the Vegas Golden Knights.

Owner Bill Foley unveiled his vision last week for the identity of Las Vegas’ first major-league sports franchise during a much-anticipated ceremony in the plaza outside T-Mobile Arena. A crowd estimated at around 5,000 was there to find out – at long last – what the team’s nickname will be and what the logo will look like when they take the ice for the first time to start the 2017-18 season.

Foley is an Army man who graduated from West Point with a degree in engineering. He was adamant that Knights, part of the Army nickname, be part of his hockey team. After rumors of Black Knights, Desert Knights and Silver Knights, he settled on Golden Knights.

Some fans might not agree, but they should embrace it anyway because this is incredibly important to Foley, and he’s the one who’s paying much of the half a billion dollars to bring the NHL to The Strip.

“I’m very proud of our name and I’m very proud of our logo,” he said.

Foley explained that the knight “exhibits the highest element of the warrior class.”

“The knight protects the unprotected,” he said. “The knight defends the realm. The knight never gives up, never gives in, always advances, never retreats. That’s what our team is going to be.”

Jeremy Siefert, who moved to the Las Vegas area from the state of Washington a decade ago, nodded his head in approval after watching the festivities last Tuesday night.

“It’s pretty good,” Siefert said of Golden Knights. “It falls right into place. It’s a good name.”

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman made the trip to be part of the unveiling. Say what you want about Bettman, but he has developed a real good sense of humor for the way he gets booed basically everywhere he goes. It happened here in Vegas, too.

“No, no, keep the booing,” Bettman said, encouraging the crowd. “That proves you’re now a NHL city. I love the passion. “More. Thank you.”

Bettman said he believes Las Vegas will make “the league and hockey stronger” because of its “great visibility.” He got the crowd to briefly turn in his favor after praising the fans for how much support they showed in making season-ticket deposits early in the process, before there was a team or even an arena.

“Without that, I’m not sure we’d be here tonight,” Bettman said.

The commissioner unquestionably is impressed with the league’s newest addition.

“I have never seen a turnout like this to name a franchise,” he said. “We are at home in Las Vegas. If tonight is any indication of the support that you’re going to give this franchise, this franchise will have incredible success and perhaps someday you’ll really have a chance to boo me when I present the Stanley Cup.”

While Bettman is always the villain, Foley is the new hero. The crowd chanted his name – “Fo-ley, Fo-ley” – when he was introduced.

“Well, wait till I win a few games,” he said, laughing.

It was a special night for him so Foley had to be embarrassed when a video presentation got botched and delayed the events leading up to the big announcement.

Foley didn’t give up, give in or retreat. He vowed to have everything fixed before the team takes the ice next October as the NHL’s 31st team.

“We’re going to do better than that on the rink, I’ll tell you that,” Foley said. “Believe me, we won’t screw up the first game like we screwed up the video.”

Foley then boldly predicted a Stanley Cup championship in the near future for his Golden Knights. “I did say seven years (previously),” Foley recalled. “It should be six years now. Six years.”

We’ll hold you to it.